Jihadist propaganda outlet denies Islamic State military commander killed in US airstrike


A jihadist propaganda outlet that is linked to the Islamic State has denied the US killed Omar al Shishani, a senior military commander, in an airstrike last week. Shishani’s status has been uncertain since the US announced it targeted him last week, and it is still unknown if he is dead, alive, or seriously wounded.

The claim was posted on the website of the ‘Amaq News Agency, which is linked to the Islamic State and often provides reliable information about the group’s local and international operations. According to ‘Amaq, not only was Shishani not killed, he was not wounded in the airstrike.

“Urgent: A source for ‘Amaq Agency denied what the American Defense Department (Pentagon) announced about the killing of Sheikh Omar al Shishani, and asserted that he was not exposed to any injury,” according to a translation of the statement by the SITE Intelligence Group.

‘Amaq’s claim that Shishani was unharmed in the March 4 airstrike in Shaddadi, Syria cannot be verified. The Islamic State has not released an official statement concerning Shishani’s status, and the US military has yet to officially announce his that he was killed in the airstrike.

The US military officially announced on March 9 that it targeted Shishani in an airstrike in Shaddadi, but stopped short of declaring Shishani dead. [See LWJ report, US targeted senior Islamic State military commander in airstrike in Syria for more information on the strike and background on Shishani]

After the US stated it targeted Shishani, Rami Abdel Rahman, the director Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), told AFP on March 10 that the Islamic State military commander’s convoy was indeed targeted and several of his cadre were killed, but Shishani himself survived and “was seriously injured.”

Three days later, on March 13, the SOHR’s director said “Shishani is not able to breathe on his own and is using machines. He has been clinically dead for several days,” Al Manar reported.

Yesterday, two unnamed US officials told CNN that Shishani was indeed killed in the strike, but did not provide details on how his death was confirmed. However the US official’s anonymous statements concerning Shishani falls short of an official announcement.

The US military and intelligence services may not be able to confirm Shishani’s status unless the Islamic State decides to provide the information. Given Shishani’s high profile and status as an influential commander among foreign and local fighters, it is likely that the Islamic State will weigh in on his fate one way or another. Either the Islamic State will release a martyrdom statement (which can be delayed weeks or months), or a an official statement denying his death, or audio or video evidence that Shishani is alive. It is also possible that the Islamic State will remain silent in order to confuse intelligence services.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Doulomb says:

    @Mr. Roggio

    Army spokesman Steve Warren has confirmed Shishani’s death.



    Terrorist groups don’t always eulogize leaders. Mullah Sangeen has still not been eulogized by the Haqqani Network two years after his death.

  • irebukeu says:

    I saw a video of what looked to be Shishani motionless-could have been a fake. Either way alive, dead or wounded his fate will be that of abu bakr and the entire islamic state. I can’t wait until the articles appear about the “Fleeing rats of ISIS”. The Trunk of the islamic state is folding in from all sides. Only the desires of other nations can ruin their defeat now. The stink of losership is all over IS. They only ones not to see it are their diehard supporters and those that have monied or power-status interests in making the IS seem larger than it is-tougher than it is. Undefeatable
    We don’t seem to be seeing stories of people flocking to the islamic state any longer.
    the commenters here don’t seem to be talking about the use of nuclear weapons and the sky falling.
    Soon the stories will be about those that came back from the collapse of the Islamic state
    Keep Western boots off the ground. Before they collapse they will turn on each other. Let’s not interrupt them with those western boots during that crucial time.

  • m3fd2002 says:

    It will be interesting to see which side has more credibility on this matter. Shishani is a competent high profile leader in the organization and it would be significant if he were removed from the equation. I think it is safe to say that the Islamic State is on the defensive in Iraq/Syria, but that doesn’t mean that they are crippled. They captured massive amounts of war materials in 2014. Since, they haven’t been sitting around on their hands. They have had effective control of millions of people, from which they will be recruiting heavily. We will see how this plays out in the coming year.

  • ulises says:


  • Doulomb says:

    Never mind.

  • Telh says:

    Doesn’t matter anyway – If he’s not dead now he soon will be, along with a lot more of the IS wallies.

  • RanaSahib says:

    The final paragraph in this article, particularly with its closing sentence, captures the heart of the entire issue here. Great summation of what matters most!

  • Doulomb says:

    State Department removed Shishani from Rewards for Justice list. Thought you’d like to know.



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